Monday, February 28, 2011

Get on board with the Beautiful Bloggers House Swap for 2012!

Operation overseas travel is go!

A little while ago I wrote here about my goals for 2011.

One of my goals is to plan a trip overseas for me and my family to experience life in another country. I've ummed and ahhed a bit about actually moving forward on this objective. I've dipped my toe in the water, so to speak, but I've been holding back from actually making plans.

Vacillation and ambivalence be gone!

I've decided to follow the advice 'build it, and they will come'. So I'm sticking my neck out and saying right here: I'm planning an overseas trip for my family and I for July 2012.

So, what am I doing about it?

A friend of mine has kindly offered to sort out accomodation in a foreign country that I cannot name yet...mysterious isn't it! My friend has to talk to the house owners and set it all up so I can't actually put it in writing on the internet for everyone and his dog to read, but I will reveal all as soon as I can.

My sister and her family are planning a house swap in another foreign country that's not too far from the first one for June/July 2012 and has said that we can come and visit!

So it's already starting to come together.

What I'd like to do now is work towards setting up a house swap in yet another foreign country so that not only can my family do a bit of a 'round the world' sort of thing, but someone else and their family can experience life in Australia by living in my house for a few weeks.

Sounds awesome, doesn't it!

So here's how it's going to work.

Bloggers from any country are welcome to participate in the Beautiful Bloggers Australian Adventure House Swap. [By participating you are in no way offering to have all and sundry come and live in your house for years on end. It's just a good way for us to get to know one another and see if a house swap is workable for us. Even if a house swap doesn't eventuate it will still be heaps of fun.]

Each week I will post a topic and that weekend all participants will write on said topic and link up here on my blog.

This week's topic is The Geography Lesson. You are free to interpret this topic however you wish, but my intention is that you will tell everyone a little bit about the geography of the country that you live in. Perhaps a little bit about the climate, natural flora and fauna and other physical features of your homeland. Perhaps a few statistics about the population and some information about the language spoken, typical housing etc. If you live in a big country, feel free to just talk about the region in which you live.

Honestly people, you cannot get this wrong! Just write about what you know, or consult Wikipedia if you don't ;) This is not a test!

On Saturday I will post my response to the topic so that you can learn about my take on Australian Geography. I'll add a linky to the post so that we can all visit each other's blogs and share the love. 'It's going to be so much fun and we'll get to be lifelong friends!'

If you think that you might be interested (even a little bit) in a house swap, then you must make sure that I have a way to contact you. The easiest way is to enable your email on your Blogger profile.

Looking forward to learning some geography!

Friday, February 25, 2011

This week sucks.

Oh dear. It is very sad when my blog has no posts at all between one Fat Ass Friday and the next. Sorry!

My excuse is that I've had quite a craptastic week in one way and another and I haven't been inspired to write interesting, inspiring or thought provoking material. I suppose I should have just snarked.

So on to the statistics...

Starting weight: 78kg
Last week's weight: 76kg
Current weight: 76kg
Loss this week: 0kg

Boooooooo :(

So what went wrong?

I've been tracking.

I've used some of my weekly (bonus) points, but not all of them.

I've been exercising, and I haven't swapped any of my activity points for food.

I'm hoping that this is simply a bump in the road and that my next weigh-in will reveal a loss. Or I'll blame my scales. There must be something wrong with them.

How about you? Have you been discouraged by lack of weight loss when you're doing everything right?

Now click on the link below and go visit Brandy at You Don't Know. She is awesome and the hostess of Fat Ass Friday and you know what? I bet if we met in real life we would *totally* be besties :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fat Ass Friday - the "I've actually lost weight!" edition!

This is my first real proper fat ass friday with actual weighing of the self and actual weight loss. Yay me!

Before I reveal the stats, I should point out that I have really old non-digital bathroom scales that may or may not be working correctly. So the numbers that appear below may not bear a very strong resemblance to my actual weight.

Starting weight: 78 kg
Current weight: 76 kg
Loss this week: 2 kg!!!!!

Let's all give Weight Watchers a big hip hooray!

Weight Watchers also suggest that you take a "before" photo of yourself. I didn't want to strip down to a sports bra and bike shorts a la biggest loser, so I thought I'd be a bit creative. I took a photo of my most motivating feature - my stomach. I took a photo of it squashed into my jeans and the photo was truly terrifying! I won't show it to a living soul until I have a better "after" or at least "half way" photo to put beside it to show the improvement! I blame Josh, who was a 4.76 kg baby (10 pounds 5 ounces) and caused my stomach muscles to separate down the middle.

Weight Watchers also suggest that you track your measurements as well as your weight, so next week I might have some loss of centimetres to report as well as kgs. I'm crossing my fingers that the first week wasn't just a fluke!

Now you should all click on the button below and visit Brandy at You Don't Know. She's awesome and is also losing weight via Weight Watchers.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My fabulous new hairdo!

Today was the day that I finally got myself to the hairdresser for a long overdue haircut and colour.

I felt like I needed a bit of a change, so I've been trawling the internet and magazines for photos of exactly the cut that I wanted. You can check out this post to see some of my ideas.

I'm really happy with my new look! Hooray!

I came home and took about five thousand photos of myself with my iPhone to try to capture that "I just got home from the hairdresser" look. It's trickier than it looks. Here are a few of my attempts.

This is, I think, my best attempt overall. The wind had blown it about a bit by then but it gives you a pretty good idea.

Hahaha, in this photo I look a bit like a stunned mullet!

Hmmmm...this is an interesting angle!

The quality of this photo isn't great, but I like it because I took it in the mirror so you can see how I see myself.

So you can all relax now, I know that you've been waiting with baited (bated?) breath to find out how my new 'do would look. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Please be my friend :)

If you're not friends with me on Facebook, then you're really missing out!

Not every interesting thought that passes through my head is blogged about here.

Not every funny mishap or amusing photo makes it to this blog.

You really should do yourself a favour and friend me on Facebook.

Then you too can know about the time that I glued myself to Josh's homework with superglue! Just think of all the great things that you have been missing out on!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Look after your boobies girlies!

Hi folks!

Here I am with a helpful community service announcement: follow your doctor's instructions and make sure that you do regular breast self-examinations and get your regular mammograms and ultrasounds.

Depending on your age and level of risk your doctor's recommendations will be different, so find out what is right for you.

Check out this information from The McGrath Foundation on how to be breast aware.

I'm a breast cancer survivor.

I haven't talked about it much here on this blog, but it's been nine years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nine years that I have been cancer free! Today is the day that I'm having my regular mammogram and ultrasound, and I thought that I'd take the opportunity to share this with you all and remind you to look after your health. I was only 30 years old when I was diagnosed, and had no idea that I was at risk. I was still breastfeeding my son Josh and found the lump myself. If I hadn't taken action then I wouldn't be here today.

If you are affected by this disease in some way and would like to ask questions or need someone to talk to, feel free to leave me a comment with a way to get in touch with you.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What does your future hold?

Have you got any big plans for the future?

Any big goals that you're working towards?

Big dreams that you hope to achieve?

At the beginning of this year, like every year, I wrote down how I was feeling about the year ahead and what I wanted to achieve. Funnily enough, losing weight didn't feature at all. That goal has just ambushed me out of nowhere!

I've had some time for my dreams to take shape and for them to solidify into goals. Here they are (in no particular order)...

Get a job

I want to find a job that is meaningful, enjoyable and stimulating to me. I want to work in a library and plan to find my job satisfying.

What have I been doing? I've applied for several library jobs and have had one interview. No success yet. I am getting a little bit discouraged, but not in the sense of feeling bad about myself. I know that it often takes a lot of unsuccessful applications before hitting the jackpot. I believe that I am well qualified and that I have a great combination of skills and experience that will make me a great asset to any library that is lucky enough to hire me. What is discouraging me is the amount of time and effort that goes into writing application letters and addressing selection criteria. What I'm lacking here is stamina! I'm finding the process tiring.

I'm thinking of finding a library to volunteer in to gain specific experience. Several people have told me that this tactic was helpful for them (not necessarily in library work). I've also considered looking for work in a book store. So far, however, I haven't made firm plans to do either of these things. I'm thinking that I should make a timeline for myself with a deadline to make some decisions about strategies. Otherwise I might float along sending off applications all year without success.

What do you think?

Become a writer

I guess I should explain this one. I enjoy writing. I write two blogs. I tweet. I facebook. I journal - on paper!

I enjoy the process of writing and I appreciate good writing when I read it. Often when I read something that makes me think, illuminates an issue for me or moves me, my immediate thought is, "I want to write something like that!" I want to produce meaningful and interesting content that engages and inspires my readers.

What am I doing about it?

Paradoxically, I've been writing less than usual this year. Perhaps I'm suffering 'paralysis by analysis', I'm overthinking it. Or maybe it's just that I spend too much time consuming the written word and not enough producing it. When I sit at my computer it's easy to be distracted by my twitter feed, facebook, or to spend hours visiting and reading other blogs. I think I need to set aside time specifically for writing when I close all the other windows and just have the one that I'm working on open (the horror!).

How seriously do you take your writing? I'm not suggesting that I want to only write about serious things. I love reading posts that make me laugh out loud. I'm just saying that I want to write well and I want to write things that people want to read. I could spend the rest of my life playing at it but I'd like to move up to the next level. How about you?


I'd like to experience more of the world. I want the excitement of planning a trip and having something big to look forward to. I want to meet new people and see different sights. I want my daily life to be different for a while. I want to escape the sameness of my regular existence and break out of my rut.

I'm thinking along the lines of a house swap. Airfares are enough to save up for without adding accomodation into the mix. Besides, I want to actually live somewhere, not just visit it from a hotel room. I want a couple of months to feel like I'm having an authentic experience of the country that I'm in.

What have I been doing about it?

I've had a half-hearted attempt at launching a house swap event on this blog. You can read about it here and here.

What's stopped me from making it official and moving forward? I've been focussing on the obstacles. The need to save up money for airfares and spending money. The need to get my house into a fit state for hosting another family. The difficulty in finding dates that would work for both my family and the swapping family. Having to organise time off work and a break from activities.

What I think is needed here is to bite the bullet. Make a commitment and work towards it. To that end I'm 'in discussions' with my husband about it. Stay tuned.

So what do you think about my goals? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Am I trying to do too much at once? Am I too ambitious and simply expecting too much from life?

I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I am a Weight Watcher!

Cue the applause...

I've joined the club. Now I'm one of the cool kids who's tracking. I can discuss the point value of foods.

Next Friday I'll have some stats to report, for now I'll just share some random thoughts about my first few days "on the program".

Firstly, this week has been an emotional rollercoaster. Can it be attributed to starting Weight Watchers, or should I blame the heady combination of PMS and a summer cold? Who knows. All I know is that despite the support and good wishes of lots of friends who are encouraging me, I haven't exactly been riding high on the wave of goodwill.

Secondly, though Weight Watchers is a proven successful program that is flexible to personal needs and is relatively inexpensive; it's not free. I'll have to find some extra money in my budget so that I can continue on past the free 14 day trial period.

I'll be honest with you. It bugs me when people say things like "It's only a dollar a day" or "Your health is so worth it!" I'm sure they mean well but they probably just don't understand that every dollar we earn goes right back out again. Perhaps we could change our priorities and make different decisions about money but believe me, we don't throw it away. We spend it on gymnastics fees and school books and orthodontists. I'm currently 6 weeks overdue for my haircut and colour because I've had too many back to school expenses. My swimsuit has gone all thin and over-stretched, but I can't afford a new one at the moment.

Sorry to overshare. Moving on...
Chris has been supportive and helpful and is counting his points too. We've discovered that our biggest problem is the evening meal. The sorts of things that we normally cook are 15 or 16 points per serve which only leaves me 13 or 14 points for the rest of the day. My favourite coffee comes in at 5 points, so I'm sure you can guess that I've been struggling to use my remaining points wisely during the day. I've also been working on fitting in a glass of wine with dinner some nights. 

Finally, thank God fruit and vegetables are zero points!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reading Corner

Though reading and books has taken a back seat on this blog for a while, it certainly hasn't in my life.

My current read is Suddenly by Barbara Delinsky.

I can probably seem a bit unpredictable in my choice of books. I don't limit myself to particular genres, I like non-fiction just as much as fiction, and I'm not always reading the latest release that's getting all the buzz.

There's a simple explanation for the books that I choose - I rely heavily on my local public library for my reading material.

I don't have a lot of disposable income, so I only buy books when I believe that they will be read over and over and will pay for themselves. For special occasions like my birthday or Christmas I might be fortunate to receive a new release that I've had my eye on.

I have friends who buy more books than I do and who are generous enough to lend them to me, but the vast majority of the books I read are borrowed from my library. For this reason, I am limited by the library collection. Sometimes I use the online catalogue and get books put on hold for me, but other days I simply wander up and down the aisles in the branch and see what takes my fancy.

The synopsis of Suddenly appealed to me.

"In the idyllic small town of Tucker, Vermont, life flows at a rhythmic pace for thirty-nine-year-old pediatrician Paige Pfeiffer. But when Mara O'Neill, Paige's best friend and medical partner, inexplicably commits suicide, Paige's comfortable world is shattered. Temporarily caring for Mara's newly adopted baby daughter while she comes to grips with her grief, Paige clings to the hope that, in time, she'll understand Mara chose to end her life, and Paige's own orderly life will return..."

I'd never heard of Barbara Delinsky before, but I can see that she is a successful author that has written many books from the extensive "also by" list in the front of the book. Suddenly was first published in 1993, so it's not exactly new. I'm about half way through, and though I am enjoying it, it seems to be following the predictable path of romances featuring capable modern women who meet infuriating yet attractive men and must learn to make space in their busy professional life for love. So while it's a nice relaxing read, I don't think that I'll be raving about it.

In contrast, I recently finished Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Which was brilliant!

I love, love, love this book!

Linger is the sequel to Shiver, and ever since I read that one I have been dying to read the next. I don't want to spoil anything about these books for you if you haven't read them, so I won't reveal too much here.

Linger, just like Shiver, is about love. It is heartbreaking, uplifting, devastating and beautiful. Stiefvater creates a fantasy inhabited by characters that are intensely human and real.

You must read these books!

{Now in case you're wondering why I don't have piles of arcs from publishers to read, it's because my blog doesn't have a lot of followers. I have not yet reached the point of being an attractive prospect for publishers to send arcs to for review. Also, my blog doesn't focus entirely on books and there are so many fabulous book review blogs out there. I like to blog about all sorts of things, and I'm not going to change my blog just so that I can get free books, tempting as it might be! A while ago I signed up with an online source of electronic arcs. I have read and reviewed a few, but I just don't enjoy reading on my laptop instead of reading a book. Perhaps if I had an e-Reader I would enjoy reading on the screen more. While I read tons of blogs on the screen, not to mention countless articles, Twitter and Facebook, when I settle down to read for pleasure, it's a book I want to hold in my hand.}  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This week wasn't a great week for photo taking, being very busy as the first week of the new school year.

I did snap this one of Josh who started at a new school.

I didn't actually take an other photos this week, except for a few that I snapped this morning especially for this post. I enjoy taking photos, and I enjoy playing with the different effects that can be added via the Instagram app on my iPhone, so I thought I'd take a few to round out this post.

Obviously this is my piano. I teach flute and music theory part time from home, so the piano is very important to me. This morning we went out shopping for some new piano music for Alana and came home with some songs featured on Glee!

My necklace has a treble clef pendant that was given to me by a good friend. I also happen to teach her daughters music!

This is a photo of my earrings on their special perspex holder. A girl can never have too many earrings!

On Thursday I borrowed some books from my local public library. It makes me happy to have a nice stack of reading material on my bedside table.

If you'd like to play along with Fab Five Friday then click the link to visit Frizzy's blog Heaven's Gift.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Even my doctor thinks I should lose weight :(

Playing along again with Brandy at You Don't Know. Click the button to visit Brandy and check in with how her "weight loss journey" (I think I've watched too much Biggest Loser) is progressing.

Wednesday 2nd February

So, any day that you go to the doctor for a check up and she says, "You look like you've put on weight. Can you step up on the scales for me?" is not a good day.

A pap test and a weigh-in. Not good.

My doctor is lovely. She has been with me through the birth of two children, a battle with breast cancer, and a bout of depression. So she wasn't mean to me. She just gently suggested that I might like to increase my exercise and decrease my calories. Yeah, I know that's how it works.

So now I'm sipping unsweetened tea when I really wish I had a hazelnut latte. And I'm looking at the potato, bacon and chicken casserole that's cooking in my crockpot for dinner tonight and getting a sinking feeling that I ought to restrict myself to a very small portion. Boo :(

This was probably the kick up the bum that I needed to push me off the fence and onto the weight loss bandwagon, so expect to hear more on the subject. I guess what I need to do now is set some goals and make some plans for achieving what I want.

Thursday 3rd February

Drinking tea with no sugar again. Boo :(

I had a glass of wine with my potato, bacon and chicken casserole last night. Was that bad?

Ate a small bowl of Special K with skim milk for breakfast. Am hungry.

It's too hot to exercise.

This weight loss caper seems not to be going too well.

Friday 4th February

This hot, humid weather is making me lose the will to live, let alone make goals and work on weight loss. Luckily on Fridays during school term a friend and I meet at the pool to swim laps. In winter it can feel like a chore, but today I'm sure it won't! Then we reward ourselves with a coffee after. I can haz hazelnut latte?

Are you a Weight Watcher or a Jenny Craig-er or a devotee of meal replacement shakes and bars? What would you recommend?